The sunshine and lighter mornings though seems to have sparked life into the garden birds, the House Sparrows were very active, males chasing each other around the trees, and looking to find a prominent position to sing from. The females though were more interested in feeding.
One male seemed to take a liking to the buds on the Acer trees, and was ripping these apart.
Last weekend I saw the first Siskins in the garden since last October, this morning the three birds, a male and two females were present once again, using the sunflower feeders but would approach them very cautiously.
The male was looking quite smart in his green and black plumage.
He sat watching and waiting, wary of the more aggressive Goldfinches and the much larger Greenfinches.
The female does not have the same colour of the male, but is much greyer with more evident streaks on the flanks, while retaining the same light yellow wing bars.
One feature of the Siskin is the bill, while still a finch the bill is very fine, in comparison to the Gold and Greenfinches, there approach to the feeders is to delicately pick out the seed, and of course they are also attracted to the niger seeds.
In the US the American Goldfinch is all yellow, and for me the Siskin is probably closer in comparison to that bird than the Eurasian Goldfinch.
I mentioned that the House Sparrows were showing signs of display and breeding behaviour. They have been quick to use the House Martin nest on the house opposite, and this male seems to have already laid claim to the nest this year, having visited it it came out and sat above it call vigorously.
A Cherry tree in a garden beyond mine showed signs of movement, and I watched as a beautiful male Bullfinch appeared from the middle of the tree.
The Bullfinch has a strong association with blossom, particularly at this time of the year. The flowers lure bullfinches to feed, though as well as eating blossom they also take its young leaf buds. Alternative names for the bullfinch include ‘bud-bird’ and the name which we now use is a description of the bird’s broad bull-necked appearance. Unfortunately the bullfinch’s habit of taking buds and blossom has earned it a bad reputation with some gardeners and producers of fruit.
I could see this bird pulling apart the both the blossom and the leaves as it moved up the branches.
The bullfinch has had a bad reputation in Britain since the 16th century when it was first regarded as a pest for eating the blossom of apple and pear trees. During Elizabethan times bullfinches literally had a price on their heads with one penny being offered for each dead bird. It seems to have preferences for certain types of apples being less likely to eat the blossom of cooking apples than dessert varieties. In the bullfinch’s defence, it has been shown that a fruit tree can lose a half of its blossom without affecting its overall production of fruit since it will naturally produce a surplus of blossom. The bullfinch can eat a great deal of blossom but only does so in years when its natural food supplies, such as ash keys and dock seed, are in short supply.
In the early morning sun, seen in amongst the blossom surely there is no better looking bird.